Wimpey's profits go through the roof to hit £152m

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The Independent Online

George Wimpey delivered a big jump in half year profits yesterday, raising hopes of a buoyant season for other housebuilders which are due to report in coming days.

The group set a 25-year record by completing 7,822 homes and beat City forecasts with a 25 per cent rise in pretax profits to £152m in the half year to 2 July.

However, the housebuilder admitted it was finding it hard to achieve higher prices in some areas of the country. Its new chief executive, Peter Redfern, said that while affordability was now less of an issue in and around London, there were still some concerns in the Midlands and northern England.

"The combination of deposit and monthly payments is stretching for parts of the marketplace. It's not causing it to creak and stop. It just means that price rises are generally harder to come by," he said.

"What you're seeing is prices rising at between 3 and 4 per cent, rather than the 9 to 10 per cent you did before."

He ruled out a new housing boom this year, even though the Nationwide building society reported a sharp rise in house prices across the country in July, lifting the annual rate to its highest in a year. Mr Redfern described the market as "solid and stable".

In the United States, completions were flat at 1,968 in the half year as interest rates creep upwards. Even so, Wimpey's US Morrison division benefited from a strong order book and posted a 23 per cent rise in operating profits.